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The frequency of wrong-site surgeries

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2021 | Personal injury

With its older population, the state of Florida sees high numbers of surgical procedures. When you are going in for medical treatment, you might imagine a frightening, worst-case scenario: You wake up in the recovery room only to discover that the doctor performed the surgery on the wrong part of your body. There could be a painful recovery, extra medical costs and lost wages as you seek to correct the problem.

What is a wrong-site surgery?

Surgical procedures only work if the doctor operates on the correct part of the body. However, on any given day, a doctor may have several surgeries in a row. An orthopedic surgeon could schedule a left knee replacement on one patient followed by a right knee replacement on another. A simple error in the patient care chain could cause a mistake. Common wrong-site surgeries include:

  • The correct procedure on the wrong side of the body
  • The wrong procedure at the correct location
  • The correct procedure on the wrong patient

How common are wrong-site surgeries?

The good news is that wrong-site surgeries are relatively rare these days. Better patient tracking tools and surgeon checklists have reduced the frequency of this type of mistake in the operating room. However, there are still medical malpractice claims that stem from wrong-site errors.

Hospitals and wrong-site surgeries

Your hospital wants to prevent surgical mistakes as much as you do. A wrong-site error leads to insurance claims, malpractice lawsuits and a poor reputation for the institution. Preventative safeguards like marking the surgical site are in place to keep you protected.

Maintaining your personal safety

As a patient, you and your family members are important advocates for your safety. Before any medical procedure, talk to the doctor or staff members to confirm that the information in your file is correct. A few seconds to double-check the chart can save you from an unpleasant mistake.

Medical errors have long-term consequences. When patients suffer due to wrong-site surgeries, contacting a lawyer may help them understand their rights and available options.